Chambliss visits DaniMer, Meredian

Published 8:43 pm Friday, April 9, 2010

Georgia’s senior U.S. Senator, Saxby Chambliss, visited Bainbridge Friday, talking with local officials and touring the Decatur County Industrial Air Park.

At the industrial park, Chambliss—who is on a Congressional break—toured the facilities of DaniMer and Meredian, who both develop technologies related to biodegradable and reusable plastics.

County Administrator Tom Patton said Chambliss was shown examples of the sister companies’ products, including the biodegradable liner that is used in bags of Frito Lay’s SunChips.

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“Both companies are looking to grow their operations and invest in the future,” Patton said. “We talked about how the federal government might have an opportunity to help. These are green industries that have global interest.”

Patton said Chambliss was also briefed on a large prospective business the Development Authority has been recruiting to move into the Industrial Air Park. Decatur County government has applied for a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection agency, which would be used to upgrade the water and sewer systems at the industrial park, Patton said.

Chambliss, a lawyer who has lived in Moultrie, Ga., for the past 42 years, acknowledged tough economic times and said he was particularly concerned about the unemployment rate in Georgia, which is currently at 10.5 percent.

“It’s clear to me that the economic stimulus package hasn’t worked,” Chambliss said. “Parts of it have, but the way some of the money has been spent has actually caused unemployment to rise in Georgia.”

Chambliss said many construction workers, including those working on commercial buildings and highway projects, have been out of work for a number of months. He said more of the stimulus money should have been used to keep that part of the economy active.

However, the Republican senator also said he agrees that federal spending has grown “way out of control.” While he voted for a 30-day extension of unemployment insurance and other measures on Feb. 2, he said he would not vote for another extension unless Congress could figure out a way to pay for the associated costs.

“In the grand scheme, if we can’t find savings of $10 billion, we have no business extending [unemployment insurance] because the folks who would benefit from it would pay a lot more due to inflation over the long run,” Chambliss said.

Sen. Chambliss also spoke about his concerns with the health care reform law Congress passed before taking a break. He said he believed the reform would substantially increase taxes and lead to a massive expansion of government bureaucracy.

As an example, he pointed to how the law will put the Internal Revenue Service in charge of ensuring whether Americans have obtained health care insurance, as required by the new law. According to Chambliss, the IRS will hire 16,500 new agents and draw up new regulations in order to make sure the requirement is being met.

Matt Palmer, chairman of the Bainbridge-Decatur County Chamber of Commerce, said Chambliss’ visit helps local leaders to know Decatur County is “on the map” and gives them a chance to show off local “bright projects.”

“After talking with the senator and his staff, as well as Senator [Johnny] Isakson, we feel like we have a voice up there in Washington and can call upon them when we have an issue,” Palmer said.